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Allegedly Abusive Priests Were Sent Here

2 Augustinians Were Kicked Out of Boston-Area Church

Dec 20, 2002 | Philadelphia Daily News Two Augustinian priests kicked out of Boston for sexually abusing teen-age boys have been living in the Philadelphia area for about a decade.

The Rev. Alfred E. Murphy, who allegedly molested a 17-year-old boy on 21 consecutive nights during a Winnebago trip, is now listed as living at the St. Thomas Monastery in Villanova. Officials wouldn't disclose his assignment nor would they allow him to be interviewed.

The Rev. George Callahan, who allegedly asked the same boy if he wanted to "get closer to God" and if so, he should "get undressed and get closer to him," is hospitalized here with Alzheimer's disease. Callahan also was accused in Boston of molesting another boy.

Neither priest has ministerial duties here, according to the Very Rev. Donald F. Reilly, prior provincial for the Order of St. Augustine.

Neither is living "in the monastery community" at St. Thomas, which is near the Villanova University campus, but they are assigned to and supervised by the Augustinian headquarters in Villanova, Reilly said.

Reilly would not disclose either man's residence. He said both were are under orders to have "no public contact."

Murphy, now 74, is "in a place where there is no active ministry, nor does he leave the place for active ministry," said Reilly. He wouldn't elaborate. Murphy did not respond to a phone message left for him at the monastery.

Callahan, 72, "has advanced Alzheimer's and is completely confined to a nursing home," Reilly said. That has been the case since Callahan's arrival in the area at least 10 years ago, he said.

The Murphy and Callahan cases came to light in 1,500 pages of documents released as part of continuing legal battles against the Boston Archdiocese that led Cardinal Bernard Law to resign a week ago.

Reilly said the two priests were sent to the provincial headquarters in Villanova "because of the allegations and the need for them to get assistance."

Callahan was already "dissociative and needed to get into treatment very quickly," Reilly said. He said Callahan's mental state had deteriorated before the order became aware of the allegations.

As order priests, Murphy and Callahan are not connected to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Catherine Rossi, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese, said she knew nothing about them.

When order priests have gotten into trouble locally, the Philadelphia archdiocese has dismissed them from their teaching or parish assignments and sent them back to their orders for treatment or supervision.

However Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua admitted Wednesday that the archdiocese has trouble supervising even those priests under its jurisdiction.

That came to light in the case of the Rev. Edward M. DePaoli, 58, who defied orders to perform no sacramental or ministerial duties at a suburban Montgomery County parish where he lived after his conviction on child pornography charges.

Bevilacqua said as soon as his office learned a few weeks ago that DePaoli was delivering sermons and performing other rites the priest was ordered to stop, and may face additional discipline.

But the cardinal added it was not possible to supervise such priests "24 hours a day."

DePaoli faded from public view after a prominent arrest and 1986 federal conviction for receiving by mail almost 200 magazines, videos and movies of child pornography.

After one year on probation and psychiatric treatment he was ordered to perform no priestly duties, but was provided with rectory residences. Published reports indicate he has taken teaching assignments, celebrated Mass and performed weddings in violation of the ban.

In the case of the Augustinians, Reilly said the order adopted rules for abusive or troubled priests in 1987. Both Callahan and Murphy were treated under those rules, he said.

Murphy, pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Lawrence, Mass., allegedly molested a 17-year-old boy on 21 consecutive nights during a cross-country trip in a Winnebago in 1983. He allegedly told the boy the trip was to arrange religious retreats at other Catholic parishes.

Nine years later, Murphy's alleged victim sued the Archdiocese of Boston, seeking $420,000 in damages - $20,000 for each of the alleged assaults. Reilly said a suit involving Murphy had been settled, but he would not disclose terms.

Callahan, assigned to the same Lawrence, Mass., church, allegedly tried to entice the same boy by asking him if he wanted to "get closer to God." If so, he allegedly said, "get undressed and get closer to Him."

Callahan was accused of molesting another boy in 1983. That victim settled his lawsuit against the diocese in 1993 for $17,000, according to the file.

In 1984, Murphy and Callahan left the Church of the Assumption when the Augustinians ended their relationship with the parish, for reasons apparently unrelated to the abuse allegations.

Reilly, who was the order's personnel director until his recent election as prior, said under 1987 rules, any priest with a "substantiated" allegation is "removed from public ministry and given therapeutic assignments."

Religious orders of men have a strong tradition of communal living, unlike diocesan priests. That has complicated the Augustinian orders' response to abuse allegations.

Order superiors have expressed an obligation to keep the men within the religious community and support them for the rest of their lives.

However the latest rules approved by the Vatican last month cover order priests and brothers as well as diocesan priests. About one third of American priests belong to religious orders.

About half of Augustinian priests are assigned to parishes, Reilly said, including several in the Philadelphia area. The order has pulled out of parishes nationally in recent years as its numbers have shrunk.

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